I’m going to keep this short and sweet and just touch on a few points that stick out after the first two games in the Kings vs. Sharks series. The Kings are under a different microscope from every other team in the league, so the observations are largely coming from a place of tempered expectations. However, the Kings in many ways have exceeded even regular expectations! (Only some snark in that statement.)
-Despite losing Game 1, I liked the Kings effort in the contest. Especially in periods 2, 3, and OT the Kings controlled the play and played to their strengths.
-The response in Game 2 is incredible. It really was a place where the Kings could have been mentally defeated by the loss of Stoll, but they responded with a stronger effort. This is what I was talking about earlier, where there is an opportunity for a team to mentally accept failure, but the Kings didn’t. That shows a lot about the Kings mental strength.
-Speaking of the loss of Stoll, the hit on White was a bad hit. I don’t think there was intent to injure or anything like that, I simply think Stoll made the wrong split second decision to go instead of pull back. The Demers hit on Smyth however was full of intent and malice, yet Smyth wasn’t injured and no call on the play, so no suspension.
-Doughty erupted in Game 2. The Kings desperately needed someone to step up and give the offense some type of direction with Stoll and Kopitar sitting it out.
-I can’t forget Jonathan Quick either. Shutting out the Sharks offensive dynamos is a feat no matter when, but in the playoffs is HUGE.
-Dustin Penner continues to get flack from Terry Murray and the media, although Murray did like Penner’s effort in Game 2. I still haven’t quite figured this guy out. I mean, he’s shown he can score 30 goals and 60 points, and you don’t get that from playing lazy. Yet, all I hear is how lazy the guy is. Excuse me, he “lacks effort,” also known as being lazy.
I think the mystery to Penner is a combination of many things. First of all, he can be a little lazy, or to be more specific; there are times when he lets the play come to him. Sometimes that’s a good idea because then you aren’t chasing yourself out of position. Sometimes it’s bad and the lack of pressure gives the opposing team too much time and space. I think sometimes Penner’s play is so subtle that it gets mistaken for lazy. He’s not slow, but he’s so big and his strides are so long that he looks that way. He often does a lot of the little things right like stick lifts and takeaways, but those go unnoticed when you haven’t scored in 14 games or so. Penner’s biggest problem is that his inconspicuousness is conspicuous.
-Oscar Moller was recalled in late March, but the Kings are still waiting for him to arrive.
-Kyle Clifford continues to impress. The Kings have found a very important piece of the lineup this year when it comes to Clifford. Clifford is doing this year what the Kings hoped Rich Clune would do last year. Guys like Dan Carcillo, Chris Neil, etc. who can score and fight are invaluable. I love this kid’s play right now.
-Dustin Brown has 14 hits in 2 games, which is to say he has a lot. The Sharks are listed as the larger team, but my money goes to the Kings when it come to throwing weight around. The Kings will need to continue to get in hard on the forecheck and play the body.
-Special Teams will continue to be a factor and the Kings ability to score on the PP is essential. The 2 power play markers for the Kings in game 2 were crucial.
-Justin Williams looks good, despite his shoulder likely needing surgery this summer. His 7 shots on goal lead the team.
The home crowd should give the Kings a nice boost on Tuesday night. Go Kings!
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney